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Started: 2007-11-04 18:06:08

Submitted: 2007-11-04 22:35:51

Visibility: World-readable

On my trip to Seattle at the end of September, I clocked 25,000 miles on United this year (plus another three thousand miles on Frontier; see my "All Flights" page for all the boring details in a pretty table). This means I'd flown enough to achieve Premier status, which gives me a shiny silver-colored Mileage Plus card, priority check-in (which should come in handy over Christmas, where I don't have to associate with the unwashed masses in the generic economy check-in line), and free upgrades on short flights if I keep on flying enough on United. This year is shaping up to break my single-year mileage record from 2005, even if I don't get to go to, say, Hamburg (which is on the table but not necessarily likely).

On Thursday, 4 October, I set out to map the western approaches to Green Mountain (which I first hiked two weeks prior but failed to bring charged batteries for my GPS); this time, I parked at the trailhead halfway up Flagstaff Road, hiked to the Green Mountain Lodge, but turned south-west to head up Long Canyon to emerge on Flagstaff Road. I hiked up the road to the Green Mountain western approach trailhead and took the trail to the top from there. I made it to the summit shortly before sundown; as I headed down the Greenman trail, I descended into darkness. I did have my shiny new head lamp in my pack, which gave me enough illumination to see the trail. However, I didn't have a very wide field of view, with dark forest crowding in on all sides. At one point, I scared some (presumably) small animal in the brush a meter to my left; the animal scampered away. I couldn't see anything, but I heard the scurrying in the underbrush and jumped. I was glad to have my head lamp handy and even more glad to make it back to Motoko.

Two days later, on Saturday, 6 October, Kiesa took the day off from church responsibilities and suggested going somewhere. I consulted my maps and decided to visit Caribou Ranch, a relatively new Boulder County Open Space park near Nederland. Compared to the longer trails at higher elevation available in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, I was a bit underwhelmed, but I did appreciate the fall colors on the numerous aspen, and the bits of history in evidence at the old mine and farm houses.

Kiesa and I then drove east to Sugarloaf mountain, which I had driven past (and seen plenty of times from Boulder) but never actually climbed. The hike to the top was short but fairly steep, and I got a better view than I expected: an unusual view of the back of Green Mountain and Bear and South Boulder Peaks, plus a good chunk of Boulder, and a commanding view of the Continental Divide.

The following day, on Sunday, 7 October, I completed one more objective on my list of things to do before moving away from Boulder: Climb Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak, and Green Mountain from NCAR in one day. At eleven miles, with a total elevation gain of 4,000 feet, the entire trek was still less intensive than Longs Peak via the Keyhole, but that didn't diminish the accomplishment of standing on all of Boulder's three mountain peaks in one day.

I started at NCAR and ascended Bear Mountain via Fern Canyon. When I reached the summit, the sun was shining through the partly-cloudy sky, though the air was pleasantly cool. I hopped across the saddle, seven-tenths of a mile, to South Boulder Peak, and spent more time at the summit than my last ascent, though I didn't linger before returning to Bear Peak and descending to the north-west via the peak's west ridge trail. When I joined the Bear Canyon trail, I stashed a liter of water, shedding a kilogram, and turned upwards again. It snowed, briefly, as I ascended late in the afternoon, for my final summit of the day. Nine hundred vertical feet later, I stood on the rock at the summit of Green Mountain. The falling snow abated almost as soon as it began, but partly cloudy had given way to cloudy. I surveyed Boulder to the east and the Continental Divide to the west before descending the four miles back to NCAR.